Aomawa Shields

Astronomer, astrobiologist, actor, writer
Aomawa Shields studies the climate and habitability of planets outside of the Solar System.

Why you should listen

Dr. Aomawa Shields received her PhD in Astronomy and Astrobiology from the University of Washington in 2014. She also received an MFA in Acting from UCLA in 2001, and a Bachelor's degree in Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences from MIT in 1997. She is currently an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow, a UC President's Postdoctoral Program Fellow, and a 2015 TED Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Dr. Shields is the founder of Rising Stargirls, an organization dedicated to encouraging girls of all colors and backgrounds to explore and discover the universe using theater, writing, and visual art. She uses her theater and writing background to communicate science to the public in engaging, innovative ways.

Aomawa Shields’ TED talk

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Fellows Friday

Astronomer, actor, role model: TED Fellow Aomawa Shields looks for life on other planets

July 10, 2015

Aomawa Shields is a woman of “contradictions.” An astronomer and astrobiologist, she searches for exoplanets where life might exist by using computer models to calculate the kind of atmosphere they’d need to support it. And she’s also a classically trained actor, who — through her organization Rising Stargirls — teaches astronomy to middle school girls of color using theater, writing and visual art to […]

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A picture that rendered me speechless, snapped at TED2015

June 25, 2015

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture was worth all the words I had — it rendered me speechless. It’s an image of six Black women, smiling and hugging, taken by Ryan Lash at the TED2015 conference. There we were —  LaToya, Somi, Aomawa, Camille, Danielle and myself — in all […]

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Live from TED

On blazars, quantum computers, and looking for life on Mars: A recap of TEDFellows Session 1 at TED2015

March 17, 2015

TED Fellows and Senior Fellows have just opened TED2015 with a bang in the beautiful Kay Meek theatre in Vancouver. In the first session, discover: how bacteria can be programmed to detect and treat cancer, a yellow legal pad that smuggles transgressive data into the halls of power, what makes non-state armed groups tick, hyperactive supermassive black […]

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